Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was given unprecedented powers to prosecute voter fraud cases by Gov. Sam Brownback last week, but he still can’t seem to find any evidence of more than a handful of actual fraud cases. His own investigations prove him wrong, which has done nothing to change his absurdly exaggerated rhetoric.
On Monday, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill giving Kobach’s office the power toprosecute voter-fraud cases if county prosecutors decline to do so and upgrading such charges from misdemeanors to felonies. Voters could be charged with a felony for mistakenly showing up at the wrong polling place. No other secretary of state in the country has such sweeping prosecutorial power, says Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.
“It means a person and an office with no experience or background in criminal prosecutions is now going to be making a determination of whether there’s probable cause to bring a criminal case against an individual who may have just made a paperwork mistake,” Ho says. “There is a reason why career prosecutors typically handle these cases. They know what they’re doing.”
Kobach claims there are 100 cases of “double voting” from the 2014 election that he wants to prosecute, but there’s been scant evidence of such fraud in Kansas in past elections. From 1997 to 2010, according to The Wichita Eagle, there were only 11 confirmed cases of voter fraud in the state.
Such fraud has been just as rare nationally, even according to Kobach’s own data, noted The Washington Post:
Kansas’ secretary of state examined 84 million votes cast in 22 states to look for duplicate registrants. In the end 14 cases were referred for prosecution, representing 0.00000017 percent of the votes cast.
Kobach says he needs this extraordinary prosecutorial power because county and federal attorneys are not bringing enough voter-fraud cases. But Kansas US Attorney Barry Grissom said last year that Kobach’s office had not referred any cases of voter fraud to his office. “We have received no voter fraud cases from your office in over four and a half years,” Grissom wrote to Kobach.
So his own investigation of more than 80 million votes found barely a dozen actual cases of voter fraud, and he hasn’t referred a single voter fraud case to federal prosecutors since taking office — but he’s sure it’s a huge problem that must be stopped, preferably by making it far more difficult for tens of thousands of legally registered voters to cast their votes. To call this a witch hunt seems entirely appropriate — there aren’t any witches, only victims of hysterical pogroms, just like with voter fraud.